NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery for 50 Years

Berkeley Lab Receives Multi-Million-Dollar Funding to Develop New Computational Tools for Advancing Scientific Research

August 14, 2001

BERKELEY, Calif. - Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will help lead the development of a new generation of tools and technologies for scientific computing under a new $57 million program announced today (August 14) by the DOE. Under the program, called Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC), Berkeley Lab scientists will lead six of the projects and are key partners in another six projects.

Berkeley Lab has received approximately $1.9 million for the remainder of fiscal year 2001 under SciDAC and expects to received more than $6 million annually for the next three to five years, as long as the program continues.

SciDAC is an integrated program that will help create a new generation of scientific simulation codes. The codes will take full advantage of the extraordinary computing capabilities of terascale computers (computers capable of doing trillions of calculations per second) to address ever larger, more complex problems. The program also includes research on improved mathematical and computing systems software that will allow these codes to use modern parallel computers effectively and efficiently. Additionally, the program will develop "collaboratory" software to enable geographically separated scientists to effectively work together as a team, to control scientific instruments remotely and to share data more readily.

In all, 51 projects were sponsored nationwide, involving collaborations among 13 DOE national laboratories and more than 50 colleges and universities. More than 150 proposals had been submitted under SciDAC.

"Berkeley Lab's success in this very competitive SciDAC process demonstrates the extensive experience and expertise of our staff, and their ability to determine the best approaches for solving some of the most challenging problems in computational and computer science," said Laboratory Director Charles Shank.

"Berkeley Lab is home to the world's most powerful unclassified supercomputer as well as some of the world's most advanced scientific research facilities," Shank continued. "Under the SciDAC program, we will be developing the next generation of scientific simulation codes to help scientists across the country take even greater advantage of these resources as they study some of the biggest scientific questions ever - What will be the energy source of the future? Is our climate changing? What are the secrets of our genetic makeup? What is our universe made of?"

Horst Simon, director of Berkeley Lab's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Division, added, "We're gratified that our lab's leading-edge expertise in such areas as Grid technologies, applied mathematics, benchmarking computer performance and scientific data management have been recognized and that our staff members are in the vanguard of creating the scientific computing environment of the future. "With these research projects now under way, the Department of Energy is poised to redefine how scientific research is conducted - and the results will be real breakthroughs in solving some of the most important scientific problems of our time."

Here are the SciDAC programs Berkeley Lab scientists will be leading:

  1. Algorithmic and Software Framework for Applied Partial Differential Equations: The goal is to develop a high-performance framework for solving partial differential equations arising from problems in magnetic fusion, accelerator design and combustion - key mission areas for the DOE.
  2. Scientific Data Management Integrated Software Infrastructure Center: Terascale computing (performing trillions of calculations per second) and large scientific experiments produce enormous quantities of data that require effective and efficient management, a task that can distract scientists from focusing on their core research. The goal of this project is to provide a coordinated framework for the unification, development, deployment, and reuse of scientific data management software.
  3. High-End Computer System Performance: This project will focus on how specific scientific applications can best be run on high-performance computers. The results of this research are expected to permit the generation of realistic performance levels, and to determine how applications can be written to perform at the highest levels and how this information can be applied to the design of future applications and computer systems.
  4. Advanced Computing for 21st Century Accelerator Science and Technology: This project will establish a comprehensive terascale simulation environment for use by the U.S. particle accelerator community. This simulation environment will enable accelerator physicists and engineers across the country to work together to solve the most challenging problems in accelerator design, analysis, and optimization, advancing the frontiers of accelerator science and technology. (Project leadership shared by Berkeley Lab and Stanford Linear Accelerator Center)
  5. DOE Science Grid: This is a multi-laboratory collaborative project to develop, evaluate and deploy the needed services to support the DOE Science Grid. A Grid refers to an infrastructure that enables the integrated, collaborative use of high-end computers, networks, databases, and scientific instruments owned and managed by multiple organizations. Grid applications often involve large amounts of data and/or computing and often require secure resource sharing across organizational boundaries, and are thus not easily handled by today's Internet and Web infrastructures. Such an infrastructure is expected to revolutionize collaborative research by teams of science around the nation.
  6. Advanced Methods for Electronic Structure: This project is one of several in the area of chemical sciences and will focus on the calculation of the physical and electronic structure of molecules with greater accuracy. (Project leadership shared by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Berkeley Lab)

Berkeley Lab scientists will also be collaborating with other national laboratories and universities on the following SciDAC projects:

  • Terascale Optimal Partial Differential Equations Simulations Center: Large-scale simulations of importance to the DOE often involve the solution of partial differential equations (PDEs). In such simulations, continuous (infinite-dimensional) mathematical models are approximated with finite-dimensional models. To obtain the required accuracy and resolve the multiple scales of the underlying physics, the finite-dimensional models must often be extremely large, thus requiring terascale computers. This project focuses on developing, implementing, and supporting optimal or near optimal schemes for PDE simulations and closely related tasks. (Lead institution: Old Dominion University)
  • Collaborative Design and Development of the Community Climate System Model for Terascale Computers: A multi-institutional team will develop, validate, document and optimize the performance of this coupled climate model using the latest software engineering approaches, computational technology and scientific knowledge. (Lead institution: Los Alamos National Laboratory)
  • Scalable Systems Software Integrated Software Infrastructure Center: This project will address the lack of software for effective management and utilization of terascale computing resources. This project will create a virtual center of experts working together to develop an integrated suite of machine-independent, scalable systems software needed for the SciDAC program. The goal is to provide open-source solutions that work on systems ranging in size from small to large. (Lead institution: Oak Ridge National Laboratory)
  • National Collaboratory to Advance the Science of High Temperature Plasma Physics for Magnetic Fusion Energy: This project will advance scientific understanding and innovation in magnetic fusion research by enabling more efficient use of existing experimental facilities and more effective integration of experiment, theory, and modeling throughout the national magnetic fusion research community, comprised of over 1,000 researchers from over 40 institutions. The National Fusion Collaboratory will enable networked real-time data analysis and instantaneous communication among geographically dispersed teams of experimentalists and theoreticians. (Lead institution: General Atomics)
  • Earth Systems Grid II - Turning Climate Databases into Community Resources: High-resolution, long-duration simulations performed with advanced DOE climate models will produce tens of petabytes of output. To be useful, this output must be made available to global change impacts researchers nationwide, both at national laboratories and at universities, other research laboratories, and other institutions. This project will create a virtual collaborative environment that links distributed centers, users, models, and data, significantly increasing the scientific productivity of U.S. climate researchers by turning climate datasets into community resources. (Lead institution: Argonne National Laboratory)
  • Particle Physics Data Grid Collaborative Pilot: This pilot project will develop, acquire and deliver vitally needed Grid-enabled tools for data-intensive requirements of particle and nuclear physics. Novel mechanisms and policies will be vertically integrated with Grid middleware and experiment-specific applications and computing resources to form effective end-to-end capabilities. (Lead institutions: University of Wisconsin, California Institute of Technology, and Stanford Linear Accelerator Center)

Concurrently with the announcement of the SciDAC grants, DOE also announced a number of new projects at NERSC to be funded from its mathematics and computer science research base program. These projects are: Reliable and Secure Group Communication; Self-Configuring Network Monitoring; COG Kits Enabling Middleware for Designing Science Application Web Portals and Problem Solving Environments; Storage Resource Management for Data Grid Applications; Distributed Security Environment; Net 100: Development of Network-Aware Operating Systems; and Benchmarks for High Performance Systems and Applications.

For more information about SciDAC, including a complete list of SciDAC awards, principal investigators and project descriptions, go to

About NERSC and Berkeley Lab
The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility that serves as the primary high performance computing center for scientific research sponsored by the Office of Science. Located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NERSC serves almost 10,000 scientists at national laboratories and universities researching a wide range of problems in climate, fusion energy, materials science, physics, chemistry, computational biology, and other disciplines. Berkeley Lab is a DOE national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy. »Learn more about computing sciences at Berkeley Lab.